Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, said the company would revise its sexual harassment policy and meet some of the demands of employees organizing historical strikes around the world.
In an email to staff members, Pichai said Thursday Google would end forced arbitration for claims for sexual misconduct, overhauling the investigation process, sharing data on allegations and outcomes of harassment, and providing new support systems for advocates. The announcement is a notable achievement for white-collar workers who led some 20,000 workers out of the company's offices in about 50 cities last week.
However, some critics said that the commitments were inadequate, that wage differentials were not taken into account, and that the demands had not been respected. Improving the rights of agency workers and contractors.
The massive protests took place when a New York Times study revealed that the tech company paid $ 90 million to a leader after finding that sexual misconduct was credible against him. The revelations sparked a fierce backlash and renewed concerns about discrimination and abuse in Silicon Valley.
"We know we have not always done everything right in the past, and we are truly sorry," Pichai wrote. "It's clear we need to make some changes."
The organizers of Walkout called for an end to compulsory arbitration, a popular corporate practice that has long allowed HR departments to bring complaints from employees to secretive hearings. This system can silence victims with confidentiality agreements, hide work-related crimes from the public and protect serial offenders. Arbitration had been more intensively investigated since former Uber engineer Susan Fowler had spoken out about harassment in the past year.
Pichai said that Google will now refer the arbitration as "optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault", but found that employees could still make their claims confidential. This is a significant change for the company, which sought private arbitration in a software engineer-filed lawsuit earlier this year. The plaintiff, Loretta Lee, described a "culture" that, she said, allowed daily harassment, including "indecent comments, pranks, and even physical violence."
Although Microsoft and Uber Rejected Due to Pressure Forced Slaughtering In the #Metoo movement, Google was previously resistant to similar reforms. An attorney for the firm told the Guardian in March that arbitration was efficient and effective, and said, "Arbitration is literally used for decades."
Pichai also said Google will disclose trends on investigation and disciplinary action and "creating a dedicated website" that included "live support" for people with complaints. Google would now also offer employees "extra care and resources," including advice and "career support" as well as a "support person," added the CEO.
The original strike called for a "clear, consistent, globally inclusive process for the safe and anonymous reporting of sexual misconduct" and stated that these should also be non-full-time workers.
The Tech Workers Coalition, a group of work organizers that includes Google employees, criticized Pichai's message in a statement to the Guardian on Thursday saying that "temporary workers, salesmen and contractors" (TVCs) "continue to lack adequate protection have sexual harassment. "
This workforce, disproportionately women and people of color, did not receive the e-mail announcement and was excluded from a town hall discussion, the coalition added, adding, "This deliberate sly demonstrates the box-like system used by Google, who does not protect his employees and our colleagues. For a company that likes to innovate, it's amazing how little vision it is to treat its entire workforce with fundamental dignity.
The coalition also criticized Pichai for ignoring the call for a field service to appoint an employee representative to the company's board of directors
Also, Pichai's emails did not mention that wage discrimination is a problem was what is a widespread problem for women in Google, according to an ongoing class action lawsuit and US labor investigators. The organizers of the strike called for a "commitment to end pay and opportunity".
Google has previously said it has closed its gender pay gap, a position that challenges the class action lawsuit.
Google remains white, Asian and male. In executive positions, 2% of employees are black, 1.8% Latino and 25.5% women, according to the company.
Asked about temporary workers, a spokesman referred to Pichai's statement that Google investigated all matters in which a A complaint is made by a TVC to an employee. "A" Code of Conduct "also requires Google providers to" commit themselves to identifying, measuring and improving a culture of diversity and inclusion through all aspects of workplace management, "the statement said.